As Donald Trump is presenting himself as the presumptive Republican nominee for president, he has described his position on immigration as “flexible.” This now has Ted Cruz positioned as the Republican candidate with the most hardline position on immigration.
NumbersUSA, a prominent immigration restriction group, keeps an ongoing scorecard on 2016 presidential candidates and since updated on March 4, Ted Cruz has an “A” and Trump a “B+”.
Roy Beck, founder and executive director of NumbersUSA, spoke to The Daily Caller Tuesday about the differences between the two candidates and how he feels both will return America to policies that benefit the citizen worker.
“The biggest [difference] is the question of amnesty,” said Beck. The group rates candidates on this issue on the basis of whether they support giving work permits to illegal immigrants.
“Cruz specifically says he’s not going to give work permits to the illegal aliens.” He added, “Whereas Trump says ‘I’m going to deport them all, and I’m going to let all kinds of the good ones back in to have.'”
It was not until a July interview with CNN that Trump embraced deporting all 11 million illegal immigrants.
The New York real estate developer first expressed his support for removing the “bad dudes.” Regarding the other illegal immigrants, Trump embraced effectively a effectively a “touch back” plan, in which they would be deported and then there would be an expedited process for them to come back into the United States.
Trump’s immigration plan on his website only mentions deportation of “criminal aliens.” There is no mention of removal of other illegal immigrants.
Ted Cruz similarly has come out in favor of deporting all illegal aliens in TV interviews. However, like Trump, his website only mentions removal of criminal aliens.
NumbersUSA does not focus on mass deportation as Beck said they believe it to be counter-productive. He did comment on the inconsistencies in Cruz’s and Trumps’s plan and how he thinks they both see the issue.
“We believe what [Cruz] means is every illegal alien who comes in contact with law enforcement and is identified as an illegal alien, we will follow the law and put them into proceedings.
He added, “The real question is are you going to have you will have mass-roundups, Trump has for the most part made it pretty clear he’s said, ‘I’m going to have mass round-ups.’ Cruz has not said that.”
Sen. Cruz has in fact said he would deport and round up all 11 million illegal aliens currently in the country but only after prompted by Bill O’Reilly during a February interview. However, in January, Cruz said he ruled out a “deportation force.”
Two other areas where NumbersUSA believes Cruz holds an advantage over Trump are chain-migration and visa lottery. Chain-migration is the process in which foreign nationals are allowed to enter the United States due to have non-nuclear family members who are permanent residents or citizens. The visa lottery awards nearly 50,000 permanent residency visas to foreign nationals annually.
“Almost anybody who believes that legal immigration needs to be reduced to help workers says you have to get rid of chain-migration and visa lottery,” said Beck. “Cruz has gotten better and better as time has gone on… Trump says nothing.”
Beck did tell TheDC there are a couple places where Trump has the advantage on Cruz and that is his support of mandatory e-verify in order to combat visa overstays. He continued to say, “he’s actually said the words ‘we need less legal immigration,’ whereas Cruz has not said that.”The NumbersUSA founder did criticize Trump’s comments at the most recent debate showing a shift in his views to be being more accepting to guest workers and foreign students, “What he said the other night was like ‘wow!’ He had two things there that he said on high skill and low skill that were very disconcerting and he’s not dug himself out of that hole as far as we’re concerned.”
He added, “The way to defend yourself on H-2Bs is not to say, ‘well there’s a great reason to have tons of low skill workers coming in for seasonal work.’ What he should say is, ‘I’m using it, it’s legal and I’m keeping up with the competition but I think we should have a level playing field and we should require all companies to use American workers.'”
While Trump and Cruz have certain, nuanced differences in their immigration views, Beck told TheDC:
“Overall either one of them on the basis of what they’re promising it would be a radical change from the past. It would be radically different from Obama, radically different from Bush, radically different from Clinton, and significantly different from H.W Bush. And really significantly different from Reagan, both of them are people who will almost take you back to the Eisenhower era of putting Americans first.”